My steel string guitars lie somewhere between a 00 and a 000/OM in size (00 1/2 or 00.5), capturing the volume, clarity and warmth of both designs for a versatile guitar that excels at fingerstyle but can be used for strumming as well. I use a 12 fret dovetail joint because I feel this configuration offers the best overall sound with this particular bracing, and can be combined with a cutaway for easy access to the upper frets. The guitar design features an advanced hybrid X and fan top bracing which was developed over the last 50 years by Jeffrey Elliott. Although it takes much longer to build than a conventional top, the results are well worth it: a guitar whose big sound belies its small stature, and one that is more immediately open sounding and richer in harmonics.
I use a maximum of hand tools and am discriminate to use only Hide or Fish glue in the style of the pre-war Martin’s. This ensures the long term serviceability of my instruments and integrity of glue joints subjected to hundreds of pounds of tension. Every aspect of this guitar, from the design to the wood choices serves to answer the question: what will produce the very best guitar regardless of how long it takes to build it or how hard the wood is to find?
For the top, I have a stock of exceptional bearclaw Sitka and European spruces, as well as some of the very best redwood and cedar salvaged deep from within a mineshaft. I prefer to use rosewood for the back and sides and while many builders and players are running away from this excellent wood because of the hassle of international trade and misconceptions about its legality, I am running in the opposite direction. I own a large stock of Brazilian, Madagascan, Amazonian, Indian, and African blackwood rosewoods as well as some lesser known varieties that are seldom seen in guitar sizes. Additionally, I have some Honduran mahogany, European maple, and East Indian satinwood with various types of intense and beautiful figuring.
My bridges are typically made from Brazilian or Madagascan rosewood and are matched to the overall aesthetic of the guitar. Sometimes, where a lightweight bridge is called for I will also use Panama or East Indian rosewood. I use a pinless bridge design which anchors the strings on top of the bridge, which was also pioneered by Jeffrey Elliott. This makes string changes for the player very fast and easy, and reduces the overall weight of the bridge by removing the pins.
I use custom tuners from German craftsman Klaus Scheller, which are available in a variety of exotic woods and feel very smooth. When I originally did a test order to examine the tuners, I was so impressed by the feel of them that I immediately replaced my inventory with as many sets as I could afford!
See ordering information for a new steel string commission. In a couple months I’ll have sound clips and more pictures of these current builds for you to enjoy… stay tuned!